Learn about the lakes, ditches, and ponds found at Merry Lea


Merry Lea partially encloses three lakes. These lakes represent the landscape remnants of an 800 acre glacial “kettle lake” that formed when a block of ice was left embedded in the glacial sediments as the last continental ice sheet receded north 12,000 years ago. Bear Lake is the deepest of the three at 60 feet.

While there is some shoreline development outside of Merry Lea on two of the lakes, the remaining shoreline of these lakes remains intact and undisturbed.


In the late 1880’s a network of ditches was developed to drop the water table level and expose the productive organic soils that had formed from the decayed wetland vegetation that became established in the original glacial kettle lake.

While most were new channels, Carroll Creek itself was deepened and straightened. This watercourse serves as the outlet for the Merry Lea watershed – including High Lake which is at the top of the watershed of the South Branch of the Elkhart River, and just east of the continental divide between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

Vernal Pools

These small seasonal bodies of water are found in forested topographic depressions throughout Merry Lea’s landscape. By virtue of a seasonally high water table, these features typically develop during the winter and last thru mid-May. They are important breeding site for amphibians, including the blue-spotted salamander, wood frogs, chorus frogs, and spring peepers.